Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vacation Reading

I’ll tell you, it’s August that really tries the soul of the blogger. Half of Europe is away from the office, members of the Iraqi parliament vacation while their country burns, George W. Bush is setting new records for lounging around, we’re caught in that interregnum between awards seasons, and the warm weather isn’t exactly conducive to sitting down in front of a computer and dreaming up lengthy think pieces or clever polls. Yep, it is definitely August that separates the determined blogger from the chronic dabbler. But at least a few things come up, worthy of remarking upon:

• Jason Starr gets plenty of ink in this week’s issue of Time Out New York. First off, James Ireland Baker gives a good account of Starr’s latest thriller, The Follower, while he lifts his subject into the pantheon of crime-fiction greats. “Jim Thompson, James M. Cain, David Goodis. Critics toss those classic noir writers’ names around indiscriminately and often misleadingly when reviewing modern thrillers,” Baker opines. “But in the case of novelist Jason Starr, the comparisons are accurate and well deserved. At a time when readers seem to want uncomplicated heroes and black-and-white plots, Starr’s uncompromising pulp traditionalism is both radical and fresh.” You’ll find that feature here. In addition, Starr lists for Time Out readers the writers he thinks have done the best job of depicting New York, a rundown topped by Paul Auster (City of Glass), Patricia Highsmith (Found in the Street), and Richard Aleas (Little Girl Lost). That list is here.

• Declan Burke puts the screws to John Connolly (The Unquiet) this week, quizzing him about his guilty pleasures, his nature as a worrier, and his fondness for Ross Macdonald over Raymond Chandler. (“I find myself defending Macdonald regularly against those who see him as Chandler’s poor relation, or pressing him on those who haven’t read him but believe that, say, The Big Sleep is as close as crime fiction ever got to being literature, which it isn’t. Chandler’s a fabulous writer, but Macdonald was always the better novelist.”) Read more here.

• Could the next “Bond girl be a Bollywood girl? Metro UK is reporting that Daniel Craig’s love interest in the 22nd James Bond flick (due out in 2008) could be Indian actress Shilpa Shetty. “Producers of the next flick, Bond 23 [sic], are desperately trying to sign her up because she sells out cinemas across Asia,” claims Metro. Of course, rumors like this have a way of fizzling out. I’d be happy just to have Eva Green back. (Hat tip to Cinematical.)

• While we’re on the subject of Bond, I see that the pseudonymous “De Scribe” has finally tackled her first Ian Fleming novel, Casino Royale (1953), at Bookends. “I suppose it’s fair to assume that though Ian Fleming probably planned to create James Bond as a character who would travel through a series of books, he wouldn’t have realized what a cult he was about to create,” the reviewer remarks. “But if the racy style of the narrative is anything to go by, he certainly intended a movie version of the book.”

• Two interviews worth noting: Arizona writer Betty Webb (Desert Run) takes on “a man of many enormous contradictions,” Lev Raphael, author most recently of Hot Rocks (see the results of their one-on-one here); while Ethan Iverson of the band The Bad Plus talks with Theakstons Old Peculier award-winner Allan Guthrie about classic 20th-century crime novels (and includes some wonderful book jacket art when blogging about their exchange). Iverson’s piece can be found here. (Hat tip to Vince Keenan.)

And who says you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover? I’d be happy to own any of these.

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